Monday, September 28, 2009

few thoughts

A little more on the previous topic.
First, Jodi Dean discusses the UC strike, in a rather abstract way.
Here, she says that the crisis in universities is that universities are a part of the capitalist system, designed to create whatever type of labor capital needs. But supposedly "capital doesn't need us anymore". Is this really true? Does she mean that computerized systems can do everything that people can, and perhaps better? I think this goes too far, and is a mistake in some way, but I may also misunderstand what she's saying. Not that I really want "capital" to want me so badly, or even that I quite know what "capital" is. (Oh, looking at this more, I see that she is actually critiquing that view of the university... I should read this more carefully...)

I've been trying to create systems for myself, and then follow through on them. Every time I start following a linear procedure, something in me tells me that this is dehumanizing, and I ought not to be doing this. I know there's something wrong with this. The most healthy of people have working systems they are a part of, and being a part of that system will certainly involve following linear procedures.

On this topic, I should quote from Karl Popper (stolen from here)
As I wrote many years ago at the very beginning of the debate about computers, a computer is just a glorified pencil. Einstein once said "my pencil is cleverer than I". What he meant could perhaps be put thus: armed with a pencil, we can be more than twice as clever as we are without. Armed with a computer (a typical World 3 object), we can perhaps be more than a hundred times as clever as we are without; and with improving computers there need not be an upper limit to this.

Karl Popper, The Self and Its Brain, p. 208

The French seem to really like bureaucracy. But it also seems to me to be a functional bureaucracy- one that really involves people. Something about this is reminding me of how Americans sometimes see nature, in terms of something totally separate, totally wild. This idea of not separating ourselves from our systems quite so much is also hitting me in terms of how I've seen Europe. I've seen it as a place of history. Its tempting, as in the case of nature, to see contrast civilization with the wild. Likewise, we can contrast living, modern places, with places steeped in history. But Europe, with longer experience of dealing both with nature and a longer history, maybe has developed a different, more interactive approach here.

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